Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Beneath the Bellemont Sky

Beneath the Bellemont Sky by RaneƩ S. Clark

Most books I read have one or two main characters, so the fact that there were multiple characters who got a chance at center-stage in this book was different than what I'm used to, but I really enjoyed it! It was a really cool way to see how different people were impacted by the war. We get to see so many interesting characters: Vera, the war widow looking to find love again; Fay, the girl who had to help out with the family farm and missed out on days of dancing and fun and desperately wants to find it now; Josette, who worked with intelligence agencies in Europe and now moves to Wyoming with her new husband, only to find his ex-girlfriend ready to make her life miserable; Emily, who has found she really enjoys her career and while she wants to marry the man she's spent the war waiting for, she doesn't know if she can be happy settling into his idea of what a woman should be; and Eleanor, who is overjoyed to find that she and her husband are expecting, only to find that the man she thought she'd come to know so well through their letters doesn't want the same things she does. The men are just as interesting: Dominick, who can't forgive himself for what he did during the war; Andrew, who is eager to return to his life as a farmer but might have to leave it all behind for his wife; Sam, who has waited years to marry his dream girl only to find they have very different ideas about what their married life will look like; Alvin, whose war injury has ruined his dreams; and Oliver, who has to help stubborn farmers see what the next generation of farming will look like. I really enjoyed getting to see the story for each character; although we didn't necessarily get as much depth for each characters as we would have in a novel with one or two main characters, the overall look at how a family and a community were impacted by the war was riveting. This is easily my favorite of Ranee Clark's books (and I liked all of the other ones).

 I read a copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Orient Express

The Orient Express

This is a collection of three novellas. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these stories. I liked all of the couples, and the setting--aboard the Orient Express--was really cool. I also really enjoyed the Victorian era for the time period; I haven't read nearly enough books set then!

 To Break a Betrothal by Elizabeth Johns Kate is appalled that her now-deceased father arranged a marriage between her and Lord Darlington. She's only met him once, years ago, but his attitude then was enough to convince her she wants nothing to do with him. She sets out for England to convince him that he doesn't want to marry her, either--and she finds herself even more sure that she doesn't want to marry him when, aboard the Orient Express, she meets just the sort of man she could find herself wanting to share her life with.
Stephen has one last duty to complete for the War Office before he returns home to marry an heiress. Disguised as Mr. Brown, he searches for a spy--and in the meantime, finds himself charmed by a fellow traveler, Miss White...but as neither he nor she is traveling under their rightful name, he fears the secrets they hold could prove disastrous when they are revealed.
This was a fun story, and I liked both characters. I haven't read much by Elizabeth Johns before (only one other novella, I think), but I'm glad I had the chance to read her novella here.

Detective Grace Meets Her Match As the (secret) owner and only employee of a detective agency, Grace has found men as a lot to be untrustworthy rogues. She prides herself on being able to notice details and read people--and plays whatever role she needs to in order to protect others. So when she meets Marshall Bailey, she can tell he's hiding something and determines to protect other women from his nature. Only, as she spends time with Marshall, she finds that perhaps his nature isn't what she originally thought.
Marshall Bailey may be a successful author, but he isn't so good at talking to people, especially women. However, he finds himself both drawn to and confused by Grace, who is flirtatious one minute and angry with him the next.
Marshall is pretty adorable; I loved how he wasn't at all the rogue Grace thought he'd be. Grace was kind of rough around the edges; her distrust of men made her unkind to Marshall at times. I thought she was a realistic character, if not always entirely likable. I enjoyed seeing their story unfold and the ending was very sweet.

Married on the Orient Express by Nancy Campbell Allen Emily Grant's brother has been abducted, and his captors demand that Emily provide a valuable statue he won in a card game before he will be released. Emily sets out to save him--only to be joined by Vincent Brady, a Scotland Yard detective working the case. With no room left on the Orient Express, Emily can't get a ticket--until Vincent tells everyone they are married. Posing as husband and wife, the two must devise a plan to rescue Emily's brother, but they also find themselves hoping that this journey will not be the end of their relationship.
This was my favorite of the three stories. I just really, really liked smart, capable Emily and strong, smart Vincent. I loved how Vincent wasn't dismissive of Emily, but instead he supported and welcomed her ideas at the same time as he watched out for her. This was a very sweet and enjoyable story.

I loved this collection! I can't wait for more! 4.5 stars.

I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Borrowed Dream

A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

Austin Goddard has settled in Cimarron Creek, establishing a new life. Determined to keep his daughter safe from Sherman Enright, the criminal in Philadelphia who wanted Austin, a surgeon, to change his face and make him unrecognizable, Austin doesn't tell anyone he's a doctor and instead throws himself into ranching. Worried for his daughter, who is unhappy, Austin is glad to find a friend in Catherine Whitfield, the selfless schoolteacher who wants to help Hannah nearly as much as he does. Learning that Catherine distrusts doctors, since her mother died at the hands of an inept doctor, Austin has an added reason not to reveal his past. But as he gets to know Catherine better and finds himself caring more and more about her, he knows he'll have to tell her the truth.

There were so many layers to this novel, but they were written so smoothly! There was a lot going on, but the story wasn't overcrowded or jerky. I really enjoyed the many facets of the story--Catherine's and Austin's stories but also the stories of others whom they care about and associate with. Catherine is such a terrific protagonist--kind and sweet and so willing to help others--and Austin is a great leading man, as he is strong and caring and very supportive of Catherine. I really cannot wait to read the third book in this series!

I read a copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Heart's Appeal

The Heart's Appeal by Jennifer Delmare

Julia Bernay knows exactly what she wants to do with her life--she's going to be accepted to medical school and become a doctor so she can then go to Africa as a medical missionary. Michael Stephenson is establishing his career as a barrister and planning to court the daughter of a viscount in order to improve his social standing and his sister's. When an accident leaves Michael severely injured, Julia is able to save his life, only later finding out that he is one of the barristers working on a case that could shut down the very medical college she wants to attend. Julia asks Michael to tutor her in Latin--her weakest subject on her upcoming entrance exams--and as he does, he finds her changing his mind about the lawsuit, his plans in life, and God...but honor and circumstances stand in the way of them exploring their growing feelings.

This is such a great series! I love reading about the Bernay sisters, all so different from each other. (The series doesn't have to be read in order.) The setting (Victorian England) is so interesting; I really liked seeing how someone from Julia's station lived, as well as the poorer classes she tried to help. I felt like the characters--not just Michael and Julia but others as well--were well-developed and intriguing. The plot moved well and definitely made me want to keep reading! Highly enjoyable!

 I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Loyal Heart

A Loyal Heart by Jody Hedlund

Olivia will do whatever she can to help her family, so when she and her sister Isabelle are captured by one of their father's enemies, Olivia is determined to find a way for them to escape. Aldric, the commander of her enemy's forces, though, is just as determined to keep them from escaping. As Aldric takes the women to Lord Pitt, he finds himself caring for Olivia in a way he hasn't cared for anyone since his deceased wife--but knowing what a failure he was in his previous marriage, he can't let anything come of his feelings, even if there was a way to do so. But he can try to protect Olivia when she starts snooping around Lord Pitt's castle, determined to do what her father has asked of her.

I have loved the previous books in this series, so I was super excited when I found out there was going to be a fourth one, and I absolutely loved it! Aldric was just so good and strong, and Olivia was so feisty and determined; I just loved both of them. Really terrific characters--and then you throw in a captivating plot, some suspense and intensity as we wait to see how things play out--and this was a really terrific book. I'm really hoping there will be more books in this series!

Although it's the fourth book in the series, you do not have to read the other books for this one to make sense.

I received a copy of the book from the author. All opinions are my own.